Sudbury

Advocates of living wage launch Sudbury campaign to help low-income earners get ahead

Greater Sudbury is one of 22 cities in Canada to launch a living wage campaign to encourage employers to pay their workers more than minimum wage.

Living wage in Sudbury calculated at $16.98/hour according to Sudbury Workers' Centre.

The Sudbury Workers' Education Advocacy Centre hosted a panel on living wages in Sudbury. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

Greater Sudbury is one of 22 cities in Canada to launch a living wage campaign.

The Sudbury Workers' Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) hosted a panel Monday evening to talk about a living wage in the city. A living wage is the minimum hourly wage a worker must make in order to provide the necessities of life and participate in the community.

SWEAC calculated a worker in Greater Sudbury needs to earn $16.98 an hour to make a living wage here. That is about $3 more than the province's minimum wage of $14. SWEAC also adds that this amount is just an average calculated for a family of four, with each parent earning that hourly rate.

Fionna Tough works in urban agriculture in Sudbury, however, for the first few years after she finished school, she worked for low wages at small local farms.

Fionna Tough works in urban agriculture in Greater Sudbury, she says a living wage will help with food security and the local economy. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

"Learning the skills and growing food. I was only paid a stipend at that time and I was also given room and board," she said.

"But I wasn't paid an hourly wage, and you know farming takes a lot of labour. It takes a lot of hours of labour. So it's very, very easy to be working way over 40 hours a week."

Tough says now she tries to educate people about food security and buying local products.

"Food is very under valued in terms of what people are willing to spend on food in this climate, and it's just because the true cost of food isn't reflected in the costs that you see in the grocery store," she said.

Tough believes a living wage in Sudbury would go a long way in helping the local economy and local farmers.

"It would hopefully mean that people might start placing more value on supporting local farmers. That would mean the local farmers would be earning more and that they could also employ their employees at a fair or livable wage."

"Right now a lot of farmers don't actually pay themselves a living wage, they don't pay themselves an hourly wage," Tough said.

Skyler Louttit is a student at Cambrian College, and who works in the social services field.

He says he believes a living wage is important and could help a lot of low-income earners, but he says he's also focused on helping Indigenous people get out of poverty.

"There are people out there that are living in complete poverty and crisis," says Skyler Louttit, a panelist at the Sudbury Workers' Education and Advocacy Centre's living wage discussion. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

"There are people out there that are living in complete poverty, in crisis and homelessness that are Indigenous and non-Indigenous and they don't have access to things like I.D. to get them employment in the first place, or an address to put down for employment."

"So I focus on the people who fall through the cracks."

Focus on those who fall through the cracks

He says often people don't realize how hard things can be for an Indigenous person, especially when they're new to Sudbury after living on a reserve their whole life.

"Sudbury happens to be one of the cities in which people leave the reserves to access services and supports. But of course the systems themselves that are actually in place right now ... they're actually made for people who have privilege," he said.

When it comes to a living wage in Sudbury, Louttit says it's important for him to make sure no one is left behind or slips through the cracks.

About the Author

Jamie-Lee McKenzie is from Kebaowek First Nation. She's a Reporter with CBC Sudbury. She's also worked as a Reporter and Associate Producer with CBC Manitoba and CBC North in Whitehorse. Reach her at jamie.mckenzie@cbc.ca or connect with her on Twitter @JamieMcKenzie_

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.